The Last of Us Remastered is a genre defining adventure, but even after all this time, folks are still sleeping on the brilliance of its multiplayer offering. With Part 2 fast approaching, here is our guide to the Factions mode.
It's easy to overlook the ingenuity of The Last of Us' competitive multiplayer when so much of the narrative surrounding the game is (understandably) geared toward the unrivalled storytelling of its single player experience.
But look beyond the exploits of Joel and Ellie and you'll discover a rich online mode that provides a taut, tactical tug of war which, aside from some unwelcome DLC perks and weaponry, remains a mostly balanced and thoroughly enjoyable romp to this day.
For those of you who jumped in following the PS+ giveaway last October, or are perhaps finally dipping a toe into Naughty Dog's finest work thanks to the current Days of Play promotion (and the ever increasing hype for Part 2), there's a few things to consider that'll help you find your footing in Factions.
Flanking is your friend
The temptation with The Last of Us is to fall back on the tried and true whack a mole approach, particularly as it's a third person shooter without a dedicated cover system.
Peeking out from behind an object, and popping off a cheeky hunting rifle shot is fine in principle, but will often lead to stalemate firefights that do little else but expose your position. Lives are at a premium here, and you won't want to face the scorn of your squad mates with a K/D ratio weighted in the wrong direction.
The level design across every single multiplayer map grants multiple lanes of traversal, opening the door for some flank-tastic manoeuvres that will more often than not allow you to break the deadlock and get the drop on your enemies.
Consider investing your skill points in packing a shiv from the outset; sneaking up behind human players and delivering a stealthy killing blow is a great way to tip the scales in your favour. But, you don't want to get caught without one in your inventory, and since they need to be crafted, it's an easy mistake to make.
It's also worth taking a minute to explore the alternative paths through each area. There's a lot more verticality to combat than the single player campaign, and there's just as many escape routes as there are opportunities for a surprise attack.
Rushers can be beaten
Despite the more deliberate movement speed and weighted combat, you'll quickly come across players who love nothing more than to run around with a burst rifle and take you down before you have a chance to catch your breath between spawns. It's a frustrating reality in a game that largely manages to maintain a slower pace.
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. If you find yourself being regularly overwhelmed, there's a few things you can do to shift the balance of power. First up, put every blade, explosive and sugar material you gather into crafting nail bombs.
Placing them as proximity mines the second you see a rushing team approach is a great way to catch them off guard. So long as you're able to break line of sight without attracting too much suppressing fire, you'll be able to drop back into cover and watch the pieces fly.
Certain purchasable weapons are also quite adept at dealing with relentless rushers. The shotgun is a high damage dealer that will shut down any rapid advance, but if your assailant is rocking a full armour set, then we humbly recommend the flamethrower. Aim low and target their legs, and you'll cook them inside their protective gear.
Pick a Loadout and get comfy
The wide selection of customisation options encourages tinkering and experimentation. But there's also value in getting to know the damage and cadence of specific weaponry. The revolver, for example, may be slow firing, but its consistent (and easily trackable) three shot down rate makes it one of the most reliable tools in the game.
We'd also suggest taking a hunting rifle / revolver combo, with some in round parts spent on a Level 1 upgrade for each. A non headshot ping from the rifle, and a quick one shot revolver follow up, will guarantee to knock a non armoured opponent to the ground.
This is obviously massively subjective as your loadout will ultimately cater to your own play style, but its worth bearing this approach in mind. Pick a set and stick with it.